Good posture isn’t just about standing up straight and keeping your shoulders back. Good sleeping posture is just as important. After all, you spend around a third of your life sleeping, so you might as well get it right! Poor sleeping posture can have a negative impact on your health and well-being, affecting your sleep patterns, your muscles and your spine.
It can be difficult to ‘retrain’ yourself if your sleep posture is poor. But one thing that can make a big difference is the type of mattress you use. Having a mattress that works to correct your sleep posture and helps you maintain good habits when it comes to your sleeping position is a must.
What is good sleep posture?
Let’s clarify exactly what ‘good’ sleep posture is. When you’re sleeping, you need to be in a position where your spine is adequately supported from your neck right down to the base of your spine. That means keeping your shoulders, hips and lower back properly supported too. This is so your spine remains in the neutral position, and lies straight from the neck to the lower back.
Not only does the neutral position keep your spine in alignment. But it also ensures that your internal organs, muscles and other joints are correctly supported. It prevents aches and pains, stiffness, and even muscle spasms from wrecking a good night’s rest.
Bad posture can also put undue pressure on the discs that sit between each of the spine’s vertebrae. This can lead to serious back problems and even a lack of mobility in later life.
What is bad sleep posture?
The most widely-regarded ‘bad’ posture is sleeping flat on your back. To see why, try lying down on the floor, flat on your back. Even if you try to keep yourself as flat as possible, you can still slide your hand underneath your spine at the base of your back. This demonstrates that your spine is not supported.
If you sleep on your back and your mattress is firm or extra-firm, your spine isn’t being properly cushioned. This can lead to aches and pains.
A flat sleeping position also leads to pressure points forming along the body including the hips, head, shoulders and lower back. Prolonged lack of support can gradually pull the back out of alignment, causing continued pain and a lack of mobility.
Bear in mind that your spine isn’t just the ‘pole’ that holds you upright. It’s a pivotal part of your anatomy. Anything that affects the spine will have an impact on the rest of your body, from your muscles all the way through to your internal organs. A ‘bad back’ can be the precursor to a wide range of other ailments and health issues. So, by looking after your back when you sleep, you’re looking after the rest of your body too.
How to achieve good sleeping posture
The good news is that achieving a good sleeping posture is relatively easy. It’s simply a matter of ‘retraining’ yourself to adopt a better position. You can also make things a lot easier by using a mattress that suits your sleeping style. This will then help you keep that neutral spine position too.
There are other things you can do during the day to improve not just your sleeping posture, but your overall posture, including:
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods, especially if you work on a computer all day. Make sure you take regular breaks every 30 minutes. Stretch, relax your shoulders and move around to get your circulation going again.
- Stand up straight and avoid slouching. Keep your head straight and level with your ears in line with your shoulders.
- Try some posture exercises by rolling your shoulders in a circular motion backwards and forwards. Think about more long-term exercises that will help such as yoga and Pilates.
- Keep forgetting these tips? Use your phone to set little reminders with the word ‘Posture’ to train yourself into some good posture habits!
It’s recommended to adopt a foetal position when you’re sleeping. Sleeping on your side elongates the natural curve of the spine. It also reduces the amount of pressure you put on those key areas like the shoulders and lower back.
If you find it too difficult to change position, then there are different things you can do to improve your sleep, whether you prefer lying on your back, sides or front.
Regarded as the best sleeping position, side sleeping can help to improve your circulation and digestion, and opens the airways for easier breathing (which means less chance of snoring!). If you sleep in the foetal position (on your side with your knees bent), putting a flat pillow or cushion between your knees can help to reduce pressure on your hips.
Sleeping on your back may allow your head, neck and shoulders to achieve a neutral position. But, you’ll need to make sure that your pillows and your mattress support your body to keep that neutral spine alignment all the way down to your hips.
Snoring and sleep apnoea can be aggravated by sleeping on your back. Additionally, women in the late stages of pregnancy should also avoid sleeping on their back for long periods. This is because it puts pressure on the mother’s internal organs. You can always support your bump with a soft pillow like the Silentnight Squishy Body Support Pillow. For more information, read more on how to sleep better when pregnant.
On the plus side, sleeping on your back can help alleviate heartburn. The key to comfortable back sleeping is to choose a mattress that’s a little softer and can cradle your body. If you have a firm mattress, think about adding a softer mattress topper to provide you with the cushioning you need.
Sleeping on your front can end up putting a lot of pressure onto your lower back, as it isn’t correctly supported. To avoid that ‘arched back’ syndrome that can result in aches and pains when you wake up, try choosing a medium-firm mattress. This will help you achieve a flatter or more level spine.
Sleeping on your stomach can also put a lot of strain on your neck. More so if you sleep with your head turned to one side. It may be worth trying to retrain yourself to adopt a side-sleeping position if you regularly suffer from a ‘cricked’ neck when you wake up.
Check out our guide for information about the best mattress for front sleepers.
Can your mattress affect your sleeping posture?
The simple answer is yes. In fact, your mattress can have a huge impact on the way you sleep. The material your mattress is made from can also have a big impact. Memory foam mattresses tend to provide a more cradled level of support. They mould to the shape and contours of your body and help you to maintain that neutral spine alignment. This is whether you’re a side, front or back sleeper.
Pocket sprung mattresses tend to be slightly firmer, making them good for front sleepers. But if you want a slightly softer feel, it’s worth combining a firm mattress with a softer topper to create that perfect balance.
Your physical size will also alter how your mattress works to keep you supported. So if you’re larger or have a heavier build, a firmer mattress will provide greater support.
What is the best mattress for correct sleeping posture?
It’s all down to personal choice, but you have two main options – memory foam or pocket springs. Our top tip is to try a hybrid mattress like a Silentnight Miracoil option. This will give you the cushioned support you need.
Orthopaedic mattresses are not always the best option for a bad back. Again, it will depend on your sleeping position and your size and weight. If you’re a side sleeper you may find that an extra-firm mattress is a little too hard. Again, you can soften it down a little by adding a memory foam topper.